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    Entries in workshop (13)

    Monday
    May132019

    Stop throwing your status around

    Careful throwing your status around.

    Leaders in organisations, wherever they go, wherever they walk, sit, stand, eat ... come with status attached. It can't be hidden.

    At a client workshop, the senior leader tip-toed in after about two hours, trying not to disturb the session. But really? They couldn’t be missed. Their status comes in the door first! At other sessions, leaders have said, ‘ I’m not participating today, I’m just observing’.

    What's that caper!?

    Now even more status is pouring out of you. Stop making yourself even more separate, different and higher. Make a decision: either be IN it with the team in the room, or get OUT of it and leave them to do the work of the workshop.

    Why and what are you 'observing'? Why not get involved? I don’t see any need for leaders to be 'on the fringes’ of a workshop, doing this watching, checking, observing, judging. Participate, do the work, connect and listen to people, get your hands dirty, hear their stories. Your special title isn’t special when it comes to working with the team in a practical session.

    Remove yourself and your status completely. Or reduce your status and sit at the table. How else do leaders throw their status around, perhaps unknowingly?

    Sunday
    Dec022018

    Break some patterns.

     

    When you next plan an all-staff meeting, a conference, workshop, strategy session or meeting ... break some patterns.

    The way it’s being done is dull. Starting at 9am; morning tea at 10.30am. Dull side decks from leaders trying to get ‘alignment’ and ‘buy-in’.

    It’s too much presentation, not enough conversation; all monologue, not enough dialogue.

    Darkened theatres and vanilla communications. We are done with it.

    Open the blinds! Ask some questions. Break the routines and expectations that you think are the ‘right way’ to do things.

    The people you serve - not the ‘resources’ or ‘numbers’ or ‘head count’ - the people will thank you for it. 

    Friday
    Mar062015

    More than Post-it Notes & Sharpies

    Let us give thanks... let us give respect, thanks and acknowledgement to two awesome and life changing tools :

    • The Post-it Note (Well, anything Post-it really, brilliant)
    • The Sharpie (In fact any marker. They're super too).

    Used together, they are life changing, team changing and world changing tools.

    So now that we've given thanks to them, we must realise that they alone (or together) do not a 'workshop' make.

    When you're getting the team, clients, users, customers, stakeholders - anyone! - together and you ask them to write their thoughts or some comments on a post-it note, it isn't a workshop.

    It's ONE tool, one task, one process in that workshop.

    What do you then do with those Post-its? Put them not a wall, whiteboard or flip chart and start categorising or sorting? That's another process or task.

    I've got to say, I'm seeing patterns before my eyes! The write-it-and-post-it technique can be limiting, repetitive and very 'same-same'.

    I'm not dissing the approach per se; it works, it's just... overworked.

    Hands up if you've been in a workshop/meeting/conversation/session/thing where you wrote stuff on a Post-it and put it on a board/whiteboard/flipchart/wall/thing?

    We can fall into tired patterns of what a workshop is, or what we can get a team or individuals to do in a workshop. When you want to engage with users, customers, stakeholders, sponsors, clients, you must think and plan what processes you'll use.

    Don't wing it. If you're the facilitator or leader of the meeting or workshop, then it's up to you to plan, think, prepare and map out what processes you'll use - or at least have at hand - to help the team and group move, shift, achieve decide and do.

    Break the Post-it pattern.

    Continue to evolve, adapt and build up your toolkit of 'go-to' processes, tools and activities that you can use with a team.

    Be ready to go where the team needs to go, do what needs to be done to respond to what's happening. (Oh, and it's not about playing 'icebreaker' games either! They're so 1980s.)

    Participation, contribution, collaboration and engagement in workshops needs to be built, ramped up, encouraged and rewarded. That's how you go deep, that's how you get great stuff done.

    So what are you planning? What are you doing and saying? How are you responding?

    This is more powerful than 'Write your idea on a Post-it' x four times in the one workshop.

    Thursday
    Dec052013

    A Blueprint for Meetings, Workshops, Conversations

    When you get people together - face to face or via a hookup - you need to make something happen. 

     
    Is it a briefing or transfer of information?
    Is it a consultative thing - you want to ask some questions and find out what they think.
     
    Maybe you need to involve them in the design or development of a process, product or service.
    Perhaps it's about collaboration: 'let's work on this thing together'. 
     
    And sometimes you want them to pick up the ball and run with it, toempower them so that they act and decide.
     
    Whichever of these you'd like to make happen, you need to start with that in mind. Here's a continuum or scale that can guide you:




    I regularly use these five levels and depths of participation (adapted from the International Association for Public Participation - or IAP2) to guide me in:

    • how to prepare for the gathering,
    • how to set up and design the environment they'll meet in,
    • what processes they'll work through and
    • how to handle the stuff that happens during that meeting.


    What you do as a leader will make a b-i-g difference in how well the group goes towards achieving the outcome. 

    It's not "their fault' or 'up to them'. It's on you. 

    If you've called the meeting, are facilitating or leading it or are responsible for getting the outcome, it really helps to get clear about why they are in the room (or dialled in remotely) and how you'll engage them to make something good happen. 

    Those crusty old days of workshops or conversations to 'discuss, decree and demolish' are gone. That's disengaging and ineffective. 

    Start with this Blueprint and zoom in on the levels that suit the outcome you're after. 

    The meeting, workshop or conversation will be more productive, more engaging and the people who've given their time to be there will oh-so grateful you got this sorted!


    Saturday
    Jul062013

    Another way to handle all that talking

    If you've wandered around my website and found many of the resources and templates or read my blog ... you will have seen me 'go on' about my Facilitator 4 Step. 

    When you don't have a structure for a conversation, workshop or meeting, this model can really help you out. It can give the team focus and give you a place to go to guide you through the conversation. 

    Yesterday in a workshop with a team, they wanted to 'workshop' a topic. What do you do? Just open it up and let things go wherever they go? Or follow a structure?

    Well, I did a little of both. I outlined the structure - the Facilitator 4 Step, though I didn't call it that. I said "We'll talk about what we know, the facts... then hear your views and opinions... and then listen out for your ideas and suggestions."

    I created three flip charts with headings for the first of the three steps, facts, opinions, ideas - we weren't doing the 'actions' step at this stage. That would come later. 

    Then I opened up the discussion and just let it go on... and on. 

    As the team talked for the next 20 or 30 minutes or more, I listened and scribed or noted their key points. 

    If they said something that was fact based, I wrote it on the facts flip chart. 

    If they were talking about their views and opinions, that point went on the opinions flip chart. 

    And if they had a suggestion or idea for a solution, I wrote that on the ideas chart. 

    I simply let the conversation go on and on, capturing and sorting as they talked. 

    Yes, I was dancing and jumping from one chart to the next and back again - each time someone talked. This showed so clearly how our thinking and talking jumps from fact, to opinion to idea or solution - in just one sentence!

    It's no wonder teams or groups in conversation can find it difficult to get to actions and commitments when all of this mixed content is happening. 

    The flip charts and my sorting helped them see what they were talking about. It was a very efficient use of time. I didn't interrupt, I just let it go. 

    The end result: they have a categorised capture of their evidence and facts; their opinions and views; their ideas and opportunities. 

    Now they can go and prioritise and commit to action. 

    This is just another way to use a model or structure. You can make the group follow it or you can listen and sort as you go. 

    Try it out at your next meeting, workshop, strategy or planning session.